Northampton Town F.C meeting the opposition

Northampton Town FC meeting the opposition.

On Saturday afternoon, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere Rovers travel to Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium to face a side who are in fine form. 

The past week has provided Mellon with a chance to improve his team as there was no game last weekend. This may prove quite beneficial as The Whites have failed to win any of their last eight.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to ‘It’s all cobblers to me’ who discussed everything including last season’s final day automatic promotion upset.

Last season, Jon Brady’s Northampton Town side finished 4th in the League Two table. What are your thoughts when you look back on 2021-22 as a whole?

Barring the last day drama, the 2021/22 season should probably be seen as a success. Having been relegated, without any fuss, from League One the season before, to be so close to going back up at the first attempt is pretty good. Unfortunately for a lot of Cobblers fans, trying to put aside what happened on the final day is difficult to do.

This summer, eleven players were brought into the club either on loan or a permanent basis. It was also important that Sam Hoskins remained at the club as he is now top scorer with thirteen strikes. What are your thoughts on the summer window and what positions would you like to see strengthened in January?

It’s funny how other fans always perceive things differently to what we do. Sam Hoskins has long divided the social media fan base and there was never any danger of him leaving Sixfields in the summer. He signed a contract extension just last year which will see him into his 9th year as a Cobblers when it ends.

The summer window was pretty good as a whole. While we lost Liam Roberts (Middlesboro) and Fraser Horsfall (Stockport), we managed to retain Shaun McWilliams and bring in several good additions. The most notable was Danny Hylton. The former Luton striker promised lots but hasn’t managed to find his goalscoring boots with us yet. That’s why I think most Cobblers fans would say we need to strengthen up top in January. It might sound ridiculous saying that when you’ve got the league’s joint-top scorer in your ranks but Hoskins is a winger. If we can add a striker in January to share the goals with Sam we’ll be a real force.

Manager Jon Brady joined the club in 2016 when he took over Town’s U16 team, he was appointed first team gaffer in 2021. Thoughts on him, his playing style and his relationship with fans?

Jon’s relationship with the fans is the best we’ve ever had. Having spent most of his playing career in Northamptonshire with Rushden, Kettering and Brackley, he knows the community and really cares about what happens in it. At the start of last season he promised “bums off seats football” and while that doesn’t always happen, we are a much more attack minded team than we used to be. In regards to style, we look to get the ball up towards our danger men quickly and go from there. Sometimes we’re direct, sometimes we play keep ball. Brady tends to pick and choose his style based on who we’re playing. He certainly isn’t a one tactic man.

The Cobblers chairman is Kelvin Thomas, thoughts on him? If you could change anything about the club, what would it be?

Thomas is a businessman. There’s no getting away from that. I do believe he is a football man though and cares about the club. Yes, things could be better but we don’t owe anyone from outside the club money (all our debt is in the form of director loans) and we’re competitive on the field at the right end of League Two.

In terms of what I’d change, it would have to be sorting out the mess that surrounds our unfinished East Stand. It isn’t just the fact that the stand remains unfinished after 7 years, it’s the division it has caused amongst the fan base. The Supporters’ Trust are heavily at odds with the Chairman and owner over how the club should complete the stand. The club’s owners want to purchase the land next to the stadium, sell it for a profit to developers and use the money to pay off their director’s loans and finish the building work. Some fans don’t believe that they’ll do that though and there’s been a huge rift for the last couple of years. Right now a judicial review has been granted the go-ahead to look into the sale of land by the council to the football club. It won’t be heard for 18 months to 2 years and most fans just want the saga to be over.

If I could, I’d build a brand new stadium somewhere else and forget all about the nonsense of the last decade. Anyone got a spare billion?

29-year-old Sam Hoskins, who has been at the club for seven years, is Northampton Town’s top scorer as he has struck thirteen times this season. Who would you say are the other players to keep an eye on and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon?

Shaun McWilliams is one of our own and in the summer he had the opportunity to move on for free. He chose not to though and the 24 year old midfielder is having his best season in a Cobblers shirt to date. He’s a combative central midfielder who’s tenacious in the tackle and has found some form in front of goal in the last few weeks too. If you haven’t seen it, check out his goal against Bradford in our last game. It pretty much sums up his game at the moment and we’re loving watching him week in week out.

Also in midfield is Marc Leonard. The young Scotsman is loan to us from Brighton and it’s obvious that he’s a cut above League Two. His range of passing is terrific. If he plays, you’ll most likely see him coming deep to take the ball off the defenders and build attacks from the back.

Would you say that finishing in the top three positions, for automatic promotion, is a real possibility this season?

It’s certainly the aim. Rightly or wrongly, we feel we should be playing in League One this season. We’ve improved in key positions and most importantly have strengthened our squad depth. It was probably the one thing we lacked last year to see us over the line. 

Score predictions for Saturday’s game?  The last time the two club’s met was in March at The Sixfields Stadium as a late Tranmere comeback wasn’t enough to stop the scoreline finishing in the hosts’ favour.

With us being at home and having had a break due to concentrating on the league (that’s what I’m going with, stop laughing!) I’m feeling pretty confident about this one. You’re without your first choice central defenders and we’re the top scorers in the division. I’ll go with a 3-1 win for the Cobblers.

Thoughts on Tranmere? Micky Mellon’s side have failed to win any of their last seven and are currently positioned 12th. Where do you see them finishing in May?

Tranmere have been really sporadic the last two seasons. I remember when we met at Prenton Park last year it was 5th v 6th or something. We won and that started a run of poor results for you that meant you fell out of the promotion picture. It looks like the same pattern has repeated this year. You had a great run of 5 games where you won without conceding, but since then you haven’t won at all. I think you’ll probably end up in the top 10 but not threatening the playoffs unless you manage to find the form from early October and some consistency.

Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium. The last time Tranmere travelled here was in March as they were beaten 3-2. 

Burton Albion FC meeting the opposition.

Burton Albion FC meeting the opposition.

Tranmere Rovers, winless in their last seven games, travel to Burton Albion on Tuesday night as they aim to progress to the next round of The Papa John’s Trophy. 

It will be interesting to see what Micky Mellon’s selection will be as for many struggling players a rest will be needed and an experiment of what some can do may provide future opportunities.

Amongst those will be forwards Arthur Lomax and Jake Burton.

Burton are currently positioned 22nd in League One and ahead of the game on Tuesday night, I spoke to supporter Edward Walker who is the host of the D3D4 Football Podcast. 

This summer, thirteen players joined The Albion on either a permanent or temporary basis including former Oldham attacker Davis Keillor-Dunn and former Watford defender Adrian Mariappa. What are your thoughts on the summer window and which positions would you like to have strengthened in January?

The summer window was a mixed bag. I was very excited about the signing of Davis Keillor-Dunn and a new contract for Joe Powell in particular, but always felt hesitant that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink would be able to get the best out of them. 

Some signings have clearly not worked out, the most notable being Quevin Castro who joined on loan from West Bromwich Albion, and was recalled before the end of the window. He is now at Notts County.

The biggest frustration came on deadline day though. Striker Gassan Ahadme, who had enjoyed a strong start to the season, was sold to Ipswich Town, and the following day Louis Moult was sent out on loan to Motherwell. It left Burton with a single senior striker in Victor Adeboyejo who up till then had never had a productive season in senior football. Things looked bleak and that bad hand dealt to Dino Maamria has partly contributed to the situation Burton Albion find themselves in.

Albion manager Dino Maamria, who was appointed in September, was assistant under former gaffer Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink. What were your thoughts on Maamria’s appointment and Hasselbaink’s resignation? What is Maamria’s relationship with fans like and how would you describe his playing style?

Maamria was the logical successor when Hasselbaink resigned. Already in the building, prior experience in the main role, often taking on jobs which required him to secure survival for this team. He wasn’t my first choice admittedly, I’d have liked to get a new, upcoming coach in from Non-League, but it became abundantly clear very quickly that Dino wanted the gig and intended to fully commit to it. He’s never actually been officially confirmed as permanent manager, but we all consider him to be it.

Straight from the off, Maamria’s focus was on restoring the connection between the fans and the players. He is focused on maintaining the high spirit at Burton Albion which has allowed the club to achieve what it has over the last decade or so. He has got the players believing in their own ability again, and always ensures that he and his staff appreciate the supporters who travel both home and away. It’s all subtle things that you would expect from any football team, but they are things that weren’t here previously and it does make a difference. The support for him is undoubtedly there.

In terms of playing style, Burton Albion are primarily a direct side. Diagonals from centre-back Sam Hughes and deep midfielder Terry Taylor are common. Dino has made efforts to get Burton more proactive in possession however. If the opportunity comes to get the ball down and run at an opponent 1v1, he will look to do that.

Burton Albion for the last few seasons have had a huge set-piece threat, and this season it’s the biggest in all of League One. Right-back Tom Hamer provides a long throw that is sent into the box and targets a flick-on. Midfielder Terry Taylor sends the ball deep into the box from free-kicks or corners. On throws especially, Burton can end up boxing their opponents into their own third as they look to hold the attack back.

Ben Robinson is the chairman of Burton, he returned to the club in 1995 following his previous spell between 1976-86. What are your thoughts on Robinson and what would you like to change around the club, if anything, if you could change it?

Ben Robinson is one of the best chairman in the EFL. It’s all because of him that Burton Albion have been able to reach the Football League, climb up to Championship level, move from Eton Park to the Pirelli Stadium, and all whilst making sure that the club never falls into financial peril. He is exactly what you want a chairman to be. Passionate about progress but never taking the risk by breaking the bank to achieve his targets. Burton have been one of the shining lights to non-league clubs about what can be achieved through sound financial sustainability. 

It will be a strange feeling when his time with the club does finally come to an end, and I certainly will feel uneasy at first about who comes in after him.

24-year-old Nigerian Victor Adeboyejo is top scorer this season with eight goals and two assists in twenty games. With the game against Tranmere coming in the Papa Johns Trophy, do you think we’ll see a number of different Burton players starting? If so, who are you looking forward to seeing?

Burton wrap up November with home cup games, facing Tranmere on Tuesday and then Chippenham Town in the Second Round of the FA Cup on Sunday. I’m sure that Dino Maamria will want to progress from both games and will set out an eleven that should have enough to do so. I am curious which of the two will have the stronger XI if there is rotation. Sunday presents what on paper is the easier opponent, though there is a bigger potential financial reward for making Round 3 of the FA Cup than Round 3 of the EFL Trophy.

I think Burton’s starting eleven could be similar to the one that played Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, and I expect Victor Adeboyejo to be among the starters.

A man to have played for both clubs is Rovers striker Kane Hemmings. How would you describe his time at the Pirelli Stadium? 

Kane Hemmings was very popular during his time at Burton, his hometown club, and people were disappointed to see him move on. His only full season here was in 2020-21, a season Burton spent almost all of firmly in a relegation battle, and he got 15 league goals. It’s the best single-season return we’ve had from a player for nearly a decade. He carried that into the next season and his last Burton goal before joining Tranmere was a cracker against Crewe Alexandra.

We all know and appreciate what his game is about, the guy is an excellent poacher who has a great level of anticipation to balls coming into the box.

With The Brewers currently positioned 23rd, how important will it be to stay in League One? How significant do you think the club should view the Papa Johns Trophy? 

Survival is the target this season, and with a six-point gap to 20th there is plenty of work to do and plenty of time to do it. Maamria has been able to bring in free agents like Adrian Mariappa, Sam Winnall and Mustapha Carayol to add to what was already in the squad, but their fitness cannot always be relied upon. 

The Papa John’s is historically a tournament Burton have never done well in, this is the first time they’ve progressed beyond the first round they have entered. I would personally like to see Burton go far this season because it is a competition designed for clubs at Burton and Tranmere level to go all the way and win. They might get a bigger reputation from the league or FA Cup, but Wembley is a realistic thought here and I would welcome the chance for that if it came.

Score prediction for Tuesday night’s game? The last time the two club’s met was Boxing Day 2019, Burton won 4-2 in League One. 

I would probably feel different about this game if it was happening a month or so earlier. Tranmere seem to have gone very flat under Mickey Mellon and I know there are doubts creeping in about whether change could be needed to get the season back on track.

Burton played a fellow League 2 side in Bradford last time and was very professional at the Pirelli. If the team is strong again, I would hope for a similarly positive result.

I will go with Burton Albion 2-Tranmere Rovers 0

What are your thoughts on Tranmere as a club? If you have been keeping an eye on them do you think they will be returning to League One come the end of the season?

I have a lot of time for Tranmere Rovers as a club. Similar to Burton, they find themselves having to compete with much larger teams in the same region for fanbases. I think Tranmere do great work to appeal to those in the Merseyside area though. Prenton Park is a seriously underrated football ground, I love experiencing the Kop everytime I go and the Super White Army are in great voice at both home and away games.

A month or so back, I would have felt confident about Tranmere powering towards the top of the table. That back four of Bristow, Turnbull, Simeu and Dacres-Cogley looked near unbeatable. It’s gone flat since though, and those recent red cards for Turnbull and Simeu aren’t ideal either.

Will Tranmere be in League One next year? No idea, the League Two promotion race is always crazy. They have work to do though…

The Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion. 

AFC Wimbledon meeting the opposition.

AFC Wimbledon meeting the opposition.

On Saturday afternoon, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere will look to return to winning ways after a run of six without one. 

It will be a tough task as Wimbledon come into this game having not lost any of their last four as they progressed to the FA Cup second round with a replay win over Weymouth.

However, the last time the two sides met, in 2019, it was a struggling Rovers that came out on top at Prenton Park with a Rushain Hepburn-Murphy goal. 

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Dons supporter Mark Sturges who gave me his thoughts on everything including Tranmere’s demotion in 2020.

Last season, Wimbledon were relegated to League Two after spending six years in League One. What are your thoughts when you look back on 2021-22 as a whole?

The campaign was what we expected it to be. All the funds had been invested in the new stadium and other projects away from the pitch including the COVID finances. We got what we deserved and I’m hoping that lessons were learned from it.

This summer, ten players were brought to the club either on loan or a permanent basis including Welsh international right-back Chris Gunter. What are your thoughts on the summer window and what positions would you like to see being strengthened in January?

I think good business was done in the summer and it took a little time for the management team to decide on the right playing style and formation. Our recent form shows we may have got this right, for now.

Dons manager Johnnie Jackson joined the club this year after spending time at Charlton Athletic. What are your thoughts on him and his playing style? What is his relationship with fans like?

JJ as he is affectionately known, comes with no previous Wimbledon connections which is perfect as we need to sever the chord of ‘I am a previous Wimbledon player/manager/kitman/tea lady’s brother/nephew/cousin/former roommate’. However, I don’t yet know his playing style.

The Dons Trust are the Owners of AFC Wimbledon. What are your thoughts on that as it’s something which is unique? Does it bring any challenges?

We are currently having elections for the next Dons Trust board members. It comes with challenges, some of the fan base would like to sell up and to have a ‘owner’ as being fan owned requires continuous investment and in this time of financial hardship, we don’t have deep pockets as fans.

23-year-old Josh Davison is top scorer, he’s netted six goals this season and has three assists. Who would you say are the other players to watch and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon?

At the time of writing, Ayoub Assal is now our top scorer! Harry Pell is at his second spell with the club and has added some steel as well as much needed experience. Combined with Alex Woodyard we finally have a strong midfield able to compete in League Two.

A player to have played for both clubs.. Alex Woodyard. The midfielder was at Tranmere as they were demoted to League Two at the end of the 2019-20 season. What are your thoughts on him?

As mentioned in the above answer, ‘Woody’ can sometimes be overlooked but our recent form has picked up since he’s become a regular starter. Is that a coincidence?

What would you say are the club’s targets for this season? Sights may be set on an immediate return to League One but The Dons are currently positioned 15th.

Stability. After watching us lose game after game last season, with no purpose or direction, it’s nice to see us win a game! 

Score predictions for Saturday’s game? The last time the two sides met was in December 2019 as Rushain Hepburn-Murphy netted the winner for Rovers. 

I think a draw or a low scoring win, probably in either direction!

Thoughts on Tranmere? They were on an unbeaten run of five but have failed to win any of their last six games. Where do you see them finishing in May?

I’m interested to see the interaction between the fans and the clubs. When Tranmere were relegated to League Two because of PPG, points per game, the finger was pointed solely at AFC Wimbledon, despite there being other clubs in the league! I’m sure even saying this will result in a few ‘choice’ words from your fans!

AFC Wimbledon fans at Wembley Stadium in 2016, Neal Ardley’s side beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 as Adebayo Akenfiwa scored a penalty in the 100th minute. 

Swindon Town FC meeting the opposition.

Swindon Town meeting the opposition.

On Saturday afternoon, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere travel to Swindon Town’s County Ground where they will look to put an end to their poor form having failed to win any of their last five.

Swindon’s last two games have brought eleven goals, their last outing resulting in a 4-0 loss at Stockport County which they will look to bounce back from.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to @OfficialSTFC, ‘Out of context Swindon Town’, about The Robins.

Last season, Swindon Town were defeated on penalties, by the eventual winners, at Vale Park in the Play-Off Semis. What are your thoughts when you look back on that campaign?

I felt we slightly over achieved in the grand scheme of things. The aim at the start of the year was purely to stay up after having 6 professional players 10 days before the season started. To miss out on automatic promotion by only a couple of points and miss out on a play off final by a penalty shoot out made it a fantastic season. 

This summer nineteen players entered the gates of the County Ground either on loan or on a permanent basis, including former Tranmere forward Rushain Hepburn-Murphy. Were you happy with the transfer business both with the players that came in and out? Do you believe that other positions need to be strengthened as we’re nearing the January window? 

After losing head coach Ben Garner and 3 players (Wollacott, Payne and Egbo) to Charlton it was always going to be difficult to replace them. We’ve taken a ‘moneyball’ style approach by signing players who perhaps haven’t been utilised at other clubs such as Jacob Wakeling who had 4 appearances at Barrow last season and already has 4 goals and 5/6 assists this season. I’m overall very satisfied with the transfer business done in the summer. Looking forward to January the only major business I would like to see happen is turn two current loan players (Blake-Tracy and Jephcott) into permanents and if Jonny Williams does decide to move on a suitable replacement for him. I feel a second choice goalkeeper wouldn’t go a miss either. 

Manager Scott Lindsey, who was at eighth tier Chatham Town between 2019-2021, was appointed this summer as Ben Garner took over at Charlton Athletic. What are your thoughts on his time at the club so far? What’s his relationship with the supporters like and how would you describe his playing style? 

There were a few eyebrows raised when Scott was announced as he was a assistant last year. A lot, myself included, didn’t feel he was ready for the top job. After a slow start with a lack of goals we seemed to have gelled nicely under him. He loves this football club and is always honest in defeats and doesn’t look to blame others. I would say our style is very similar to last season in that we like to dominate possession and will probably set up in a 4-3-3 but could possibly be a 4-1-2-1-2 depending on personnel. 

Sydney plumber Clem Morfuni took full ownership of Swindon days before the 2021-22 season kicked off. What are your thoughts on him and what would you like to be done at the club in the near future, to improve any aspect of it?

Clem has given new life to this club, we are now very close to being debt free and have a clear project for the future. He’s always been transparent with finance which is refreshing from the last owner. He has plans to revamp the County Ground including a roof on the stand behind the goal and perhaps making the other Stand behind the goal 2 tiered.

Midfielder Jonny Williams, who has represented Wales at senior level 33 times, is the club’s top goalscorer with six strikes this season. Who do you believe are Swindon’s players to watch, as Harry Mckirdy has departed for Hibernian, and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon?

Obviously Williams is the one to watch, he’s on fire at the moment including one of the best performances I’ve seen from a league two player at Mansfield a few weeks ago. Away from him, I feel a lot of the play will come through Sadiou Khan/ Louis Reed who will look to dictate the play from the base of the midfield. I would also keep an eye on Remaeo Hutton who loves to get forward and attack and has been another stand out performer this year.

A player who has played for both clubs, as mentioned in a previous question, is Rushain Hepburn-Murphy. How has he started his time at Swindon? 

Rush has unfortunately been plagued with injuries. He played for 20 mins in a Papa Johns Trophy game against Plymouth where he scored a late goal for us. He then came off with Injury in the following game against Grimsby. In that 20 minutes against Plymouth he showed a lot of pace and hopefully when fully fit can be a good player for us.

What are your realistic targets for this season with Swindon currently placed sixth? Do you believe that promotion is firmly in sight after last season’s late disappointment?

 I think after last season the majority of fans wouldn’t accept less than promotion. While I feel the squad is good enough I still feel there are too many inconsistencies to finish in the top 3. I believe a top 7 finish is more than capable though. 

Score prediction for Saturday? The last time the two club’s met was in early February at Prenton Park when Rovers won 3-0, Kane Hemmings netted two as Paul Glatzel struck the other.

 I think it depends on which Swindon shows up. If the slow methodical easy to play against Swindon shows up I think Tranmere will have a fairly comfortable defensive performance. If the fast high temp Swindon turn up we could easily score 2/3.  I do however think Tranmere will score as we have a lot of defensive injuries. I’ll say 2-1 Swindon.

If you have been keeping up with Micky Mellon’s Tranmere this campaign, thoughts on them? Do you believe they will have what it takes to finish in the Play-Offs? 

I know that Micky Mellon sides press well and work hard out of possession. While you never see Tranmere score bucket loads you never see them concede a lot either. Tranmere are very good at grinding out those results and I think that they have a few weapons that can hurt teams like the experience of Hemmings and ex Swindon player Turnbull from set pieces. 

I would expect to see Tranmere at least in the top 10 come May

The County Ground, Swindon Town. Tranmere’s last win came here in March 2006 as Chris Greenacre and Sam Aiston netted for Brian Little’s side.  

Carlisle United FC meeting the opposition.

After Tranmere’s disappointing performance in midweek against Rochdale, which resulted in a 1-1 draw, Micky Mellon’s side have a chance to extend their unbeaten run and turn one point into all three when they face Paul Simpson’s Carlisle United at Prenton Park this weekend.

Carlisle have had a decent start to the season and despite failing to win any of their last three games are placed tenth in League Two thus providing a tricky test on Saturday. 

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Carlisle supporter Ben Pitkeathly. 

Last season, Carlisle finished 20th in League Two as Omari Patrick finished top goalscorer with nine goals in all competitions. What are your thoughts looking back on the season?

Glad it’s over and in the past. Up until Simmo’s return, it felt like the end, the club looked destined for non-league and never to come back. Key players were sold in the summer and the replacements were cheap options meaning Chris Beech’s tactics didn’t work anymore without the right personnel so he lost his job. Keith Millen came in but couldn’t turn it around but some of his January signings proved to be good acquisitions. A nice guy but too nice for a relegation battle and there was always the feeling he didn’t know how to manage in League Two. Millen was sacked along with failed Director of Football David Holdsworth with Simmo incoming and he galvanised the whole club. He took us on a great run and some of those wins, away at Oldham in particular, will always be remembered. A rollercoaster from inspiration to elation.

This summer, eleven players were brought in either on loan or on a permanent basis. Were you happy with the transfer business over the summer? Did you believe that other positions needed to be strengthened?

I was pleased with the transfer business, we let the majority of the previous season’s squad go so every position pretty much needed strengthened. A good blend of experience and hungry younger players has culminated in a balanced squad with the acquisition of Paul Huntington the highest profile and a key signing in terms of leadership.

Paul Simpson was appointed manager on February 23rd following the dismissal of Keith Millen. What are your thoughts on his time at the club so far? What’s his relationship with the supporters like and how would you describe his playing style?

Simmo’s from Carlisle and just gets it. It’s his second time around after he took us from the now National League up to League One, winning the fourth tier in the process so his reputation was never a doubt. He’s changed everything, the standards at the club are so much higher and he demands the best from every member of staff. Nobody quite expected us to be as high as we have been with this season seen as a transition campaign but he has a special knack of getting the best from a squad which isn’t the most talented in the division. He’s seen as the be all and end all by fans and the crowds have vastly improved since his return. It is hard to sum up quite the impact one person has one a football club and the city as a whole. We’ve played with wing-backs so far and like to play on the front foot but injuries have dictated the set up in recent weeks.

Andrew Jenkins is the chairman of United. Thoughts on him? Would you like to see something being done by him in the near future to improve any aspect of the club?

He’s hung on for too long due to his passion for the club and he should’ve sold up a long time with us now in debt because he can no longer afford to fund it all but Simmo has made him more proactive. He needs to find a way of clearing the debt either by paying it off himself or finding another way but finding a new ambitious owner in the next three years is imperative.

Kristian Dennis has netted eight goals in all competitions this season and is the club’s top goalscorer. Who do you believe are Carlisle’s players to watch and where will the key battles be played out on Saturday afternoon?

We’ve got 11 players out through either injury or suspension so there’s not as many to choose from but Owen Moxon, a local lad who was driving a delivery van while playing fourth tier football in Scotland last season has run the show for us on many occasions this season. Jack Stretton has been in good form recently so him and Dennis up against the Tranmere backline could be the difference between us getting a result. Hunington is hopefully fit and I’d be overjoyed if he managed to stop Kane Hemmings from scoring again as he always seems to be a thorn in our side.

A player who has played for both clubs … Dynel Simeu. What were your thoughts on him whilst he was at Carlisle last season, on loan, and how do you believe he will do against Carlisle’s frontline?

Talented, powerful but prone to the odd mistake positionally. He was a big part of us staying up last season and there were hopes he would return but I do think he gets slightly overrated because of the passion he displays which tends to overshadow his performance on the occasion. He’ll have to be careful not to be pulled out of position by Dennis which could leave you exposed.

What are your realistic targets for this season?

Originally midtable, not quite good enough to go up but solid and unlikely to be in trouble. We’ve surprised a lot of teams so far and I wouldn’t rule us out of sneaking into the playoffs depending on injuries and our January transfer business.

Score prediction for Saturday? The last time the two clubs met was at Prenton Park in early April as Tobi Sho-Silva scored a 97th minute equaliser for the visitors.

Can’t see there being the same excitement this time with both teams not at their best in recent weeks, I’ll go for a boring 0-0.

If you have been keeping up with Tranmere this season, what are your thoughts on them and where do you believe Rovers will finish come May?

Underachieved so far with the players you have, not sure whether Mellon’s magic has worn out or just underperformed. Would still expect them to be towards the top half of the table at the end of the season.

Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United. Next weekend, Tranmere will visit here in the FA Cup first round. 

Rochdale AFC meeting the opposition.

Rochdale FC meeting the opposition.

Tranmere are back at home on Tuesday night following their away draw against Harrogate Town on Saturday afternoon, the visitors being Jim Bentley’s Rochdale.

With Tranmere on a great run of form, being unbeaten in the league since the defeat at home to Bradford City, Rochdale are on a relatively good run of form themselves following the appointment of Jim Bentley meaning that Tuesday night will certainly not be an easy outing for either side. 

Ahead of the game on Tuesday night, I spoke to @RochdaleFan to catch up on all things ‘Dale. 

Last season, Rochdale finished 18th in League Two as Jake Beesley finished top goalscorer with six in all competitions. What are your thoughts on that campaign?

Last season was our lowest ever finish since 2006. While the off the field issues did have a part to play for the on-field struggles, they do not wholly abolish the poor season. The football was unwatchable at times – Set up not to lose. Sideways passing. No attacking threat. Concede a set-piece goal. Still lost.

This summer, a total of thirteen players were brought in either on loan or on a permanent basis including Toumani Diagouraga from Morecambe. Were you happy with the transfer business over the summer? Did you believe that other positions needed to be added to or something else to have been done around the club? 

On paper, most of the players we recruited in the summer looked decent. We brought in much needed experience with Richard O’Donnell, Ethan Ebanks-Landell (EEL), Toumani Diagouraga and Ian Henderson.But, out of the 13 player brought in, in my opinion only 4, maybe 5 has really turned out to be a decent signing – O’Donnell, Diagouraga, Seriki, Sinclair and Rodney. Summer signing Rayhaan Tulloch is up there with one of the worst players I’ve seen play for Dale. Feel like we are still yet to replace Ollie Rathbone too. We are missing that ball winning terrier in our midfield. Also, I think we could do with an out and out left footer at left-back.

After a poor start to the season, Jim Bentley replaced manager Robbie Stockdale. What were your thoughts on the timing of Stockdale’s dismissal and Bentley’s time at the club so far? 

In hindsight we should have sacked Stockdale at the end of last season. Giving him the summer could end up being proven to be a huge mistake. Bentley on the other hand has been a breath of fresh air since being appointed. He has got a squad that looked broken and devoid of quality, fighting for each other, organised, resilient to grind games out and attacking with pace.

Simon Gauge is the chairman of Rochdale, thoughts on him and what he has brought to the club?

The hardwork and dedication Simon and the rest of the board have put in the last year to fight off hostile takeover attempts to keep the club fan owned can’t be thanked enough. They have brought some stability into a club that was getting sold down the drain by David Bottomley. The work they have done in the community should not go unnoticed as well.  

Scott Quigley has scored four goals in eight games this campaign, who do you believe are The Dale’s players to watch and where will the key battles be played out on Tuesday night? 

Scott Quigley would have been one of those Dale players to watch out for, but fortunately for Tranmere he’s out injured. Bad news for Rochdale as we didn’t look the same team without him on Saturday. Other players to watch out for are Tyrese Sinclair and James Ball. Sinclair is quickly becoming a fan favourite of mine. He embodies everything we as a club and Bentley stand for –  doesn’t stop running, doesn’t shirk from a battle, he’s quick and forward thinking and for his size lethal in the air. James Ball has been one of many who has been revitalised by Bentley. A powerful midfielder with an eye for a goal and Bentley system and style of play seems to be getting the best out of Ball.

What are your realistic targets for this season? With Rochdale placed 22nd, do you believe that there is enough firepower and strength to stay up?  

With the mess Stockdale has left us in, the aim this season has to be just to avoid relegation. If you asked me this question a few weeks ago, I would have said no chance, but Bentley has instilled a belief around the club and has given me hope that there are at least two teams worse than us. Think the January transfer window and getting Quigley back fit will be key however for our survival hopes. 

Score prediction for Tuesday? The last time the two club’s met at Prenton Park was in mid-January as Charlie Jolley netted a brace. Rovers won 2-0. 

I’m expecting quite a close game. Think Tranmere will edge a 1 nil win though.

If you have been keeping up with Tranmere this season, what are your thoughts on them as Micky Mellon’s men are currently on a good run of form? 

Tranmere was one of my fancied teams to get promoted before the season started. Still fancy you being right up there now as well. Can’t say I have watched Tranmere this season, but looking at your results it seems you are not conceding many and are starting to find some form.

Prenton Park, Tranmere. Rovers’ next three games are all at home against: Rochdale, Carlisle and Stockport. 

Crewe Alexandra meeting the opposition.

Tranmere are on an exceptional run of form with four wins and four clean sheets, three of those coming on the road. Thus, the SuperWhite Army go into Friday’s home game against Crewe with great optimism of carrying on their good run.

Ahead of the ninety minutes under the lights, I spoke to Crewe Alexandra fan Stuart, of The Railway Podcast, about all things Crewe followed on from their relegation out of League One in May.

The Railway Podcast provides Crewe Alexandra reviews, previews and club news with special ex player Thursday podcasts included but just to start things off, could you tell me a little bit about yourselves and how long you have been Crewe fans?

The podcast was set up by me, Stuart, I started going to The Alex in the mid – early 90s. I was a regular match goer in the championship years, unfortunately geography now means I watch every week on iFollow. Luckily though the podcast is built around our recurring cast of panellists that now number in the 20s, with all of them being match going regulars.  

Last season, Crewe finished 24th as they were relegated to League Two. How do you look back on that campaign as a whole and how poorly does it rank in the seasons that you have experienced whilst watching the club?

Quite simply it was the worst season I’ve ever known as a Crewe fan. The whole season was watching game after game which we knew we were going to get beat in before they had even started. There wasn’t even any real point of hope throughout the entire season, it was just awful. 

I’m now far enough removed from 2021/22 that I’m beginning to get over it, but I never want a season like that again.

This summer, nine players have been brought in as seventeen went the other way either on a permanent deal or a loan. Were you happy with the transfer business over the summer? Which positions do you believe need to be strengthened in future windows? How important was it that seventeen exited following the relegation?

I don’t know if we were happy with it over the summer as a lot of what we signed were unknowns for the vast majority of us, with the exception of Kelvin Mellow who has returned to the club. 

There was a need to get rid of some of the players and there was a need to replace those players with better players, and also replace the players who were leaving that we might have wanted to keep. 

Now the season is about a quarter of the way through, I’d say the recruitment has been mostly successful, with a couple of League 2 signings that have proven excellent, but the jury is still out on a couple more. 

The squad is still thin, but we are restricted as Morris was not actually able to move out as many as he wanted in total.

At the end of last season, Dave Artell was sacked as Alex Morris, who was his assistant, took over. Morris had previously been manager of the club’s academy thus what are fans thoughts on him and his playing style? Also, was it the right time for Artell to leave?

I loved Dave Artell when he was at the club. He won us promotion as a player and as a manager. We were lucky enough to have him on the podcast a couple of weeks before his sacking and he was extremely good to us. For all of those reasons and the memories he helped us have, I can’t thank him enough. 

All that being said, yes. I now look back in hindsight, and think that yes, his time was up at Crewe.

As for Morris I think the jury is still out. We made a strong start to the season and that obviously helped him get settled. However, we’ve not been on the best run recently and that coupled with a more direct style of play that Crewe fans don’t particularly like as it isn’t the ‘Crewe Way’ means there’s been the first few grumbles. Nothing serious yet though.

Charles Grant has been the owner of Crewe since August 2021. What are your thoughts on him and how much blame do you believe that he should take for the relegation, if any?

There’s two questions there, so I will answer them separately. Charles is a local businessman who has made his money and is now looking to help support his local football club. The Crewe Alex board is full of similar local successful businessmen, and I personally think that’s great. The other thing I think that Charles and the board have done really well, since they took over the helm, is involving more local businesses and really promoting them and the club together. Something I think we could say the old board didn’t really do, and can only be applauded.

In terms of the relegation I think there was a certain naivety, within the club, about firstly, how much Dave Artell was able to do by himself and secondly how difficult it was to replace the outgoing players before the start of the 21/22 season. So, whilst, Charles Grant shouldn’t take any of the blame for what happened on the pitch, that’s not his remit, I think, and hope that he and the whole club learnt valuable lessons last year, that means it hopefully won’t happen again.

Courtney Baker-Richardson is the club’s top scorer with seven goals in thirteen games after signing from Newport County in the summer. Who do you believe are your side’s key players and where do you believe the key battles will be played out on Saturday afternoon?

CBR has been excellent since he signed and is well on his way to becoming a fans favourite at the Alex. When we signed him, I was led to believe that he was an excellent target man who brought players in well, but struggled to score goals. He’s our top scorer on 6 already and one of only two players to have scored more than once. 

So, he’s very important. Another of our summer signings is ‘Concrete’ Rod McDonald and his centre half partnership with captain Luke Offord has been another highlight of this team that’s still in transition.

What are your realistic targets for the season? Is this a campaign of just stabilising yourselves after the relegation?

Yeah, that’s probably fair. After the season started well I think there are now people a little upset to find ourselves currently in 13th. However, after last season a 13th finish this year, and looking upwards, not downwards, next year is probably something Crewe fans will accept. Not be over the moon with, but accept.

What is your score prediction for the weekend? The last time the two clubs came head to head was in March 2019 as Rovers won at Prenton Park with a James Norwood goal in the 72nd minute.

 3-0 to The Alex. CBR hattrick!

On Tuesday night, the two clubs will come head to head again in PJT action at Gresty Road. How will Crewe address the game? How important do Crewe fans view this competition and what players are you most looking forward to seeing if they don’t normally get league action?

One of the best days of my Crewe supporting days was going to Wembley to watch Crewe win this tournament. This has now unfortunately become a joke competition at the beck and call of the bigger clubs who want to monopolise everything within football. I refuse to engage with it any longer.

If you have been keeping up with Micky Mellon’s Tranmere this campaign, what are your thoughts on them as The Whites have now found some form?

I think Tranmere have almost had the opposite start to the season that Crewe had. A slow start, and picking up some form. Despite my some-what tongue in cheek score prediction I think it will be a tough game, at a tough ground and I’m hoping for a big crowd, with it being something of a local derby.

Tranmere return to Prenton Park hoping to extend their current run of four wins and clean sheets. 

Sutton United F.C Meeting the opposition.

On the back of three successive league wins, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere look to add a further three points to their tally when they travel to Sutton United on Saturday afternoon.

Last season was Sutton’s first as a League club and to find out more about how things are on and off the pitch I caught up with Gandermonium. 

Last season was Sutton’s first in the EFL and Matt Gray’s side finished just outside the play-offs. How do you look back on the campaign as a whole? What were some of the best/worst moments of the season?

It was all a bit odd TBH. After winning the National League and having a mental summer, all anyone wanted was just to stay up. Get 50pts and be here again next year. And that looked to be the case with a slow start, but then in the run up to Christmas we started really getting a head of steam up and were in the top 5 until the final weeks. Missing out on the Play offs was a slight disappointment given where we’d been all year, but missing out on 76 pts that like no one has for years was wonderfully Sutton United. And we got to go to Wembley in the Pizza Cup final, so I don’t think too many people were that cut up over it.

Best moment was probably the Pizza Cup semi at Wigan. I know people don’t like it, but it got us our first visit to the National Stadium in 40 years and the night out afterwards will live long in the memory. Wigan’s alright on a Tuesday night as it turns out! Worst was probably losing our first home game to Oldham. One up and looking good before we shit the bed twice in the last 5 and lost 2-1 to a side that were clearly going to be in trouble that season.

This summer eleven players were brought in on either a loan or permanent deal, an undisclosed fee was spent on signing goalkeeper Lewis Ward from Swindon Town. How have the new player’s settled in? How happy are you with the club’s business and which area’s do you believe need to be strengthened in future windows? 

It’s been a mixed bag so far. Josh Neufville on loan from Luton’s been decent, but the others are taking a little longer to bed in. Injuries kept Callum Hart out all season so far, so we’ve not seen him yet. No one looks a proper bust yet though. Long way to go.

Matt Gray was appointed in 2019. What are your thoughts on him and how would you describe his playing style?

Matt’s done a great job and he seems to really get the club and the way we’re set up and do things. His style is no fuss 4-4-2, tight, organised. All his players are aware of their job and what’s expected of them. There’s no egos here. 

Bruce Elliott is the Chairman of Sutton. What are your thoughts on him and the way the club is run? 

Bruce has been here forever. Came up through the supporters club in the 60’s and has been in the hot seat about 25years now. He’s a fan, as a lot of the current board are, so he always has the club’s best interests at heart and runs a pretty tight ship. There’s no gambling financially or daft 5 year plans to reach the Premier League round here. 

Winger Will Randall is the top scorer for United this season with three goals in all competitions, Tope Fadahunsi has also netted this amount. Who would you say are your side’s key players and where do you believe the key battles will be played out on Saturday afternoon?

When Will’s fit, he’s a definite asset to the side, both in attack and defence in fact. Neufville on the other flank has made a definite impression since joining. Omar Bugiel up top is also a big threat for us. 

Touching on the strengths that your side has, what are your realistic goals for this season?

We’re simply keeping the same attitude from last season. Get 50pts, stay in the division bare minimum. Keeping the FL spot is crucial to growing the club and keeping us moving forwards. Once we get to 50, we can see where we are and go from there. I know Matt is keen to push on and have a pop at the playoffs though.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs came head to head was mid-March at Gander Green Lane as Josh Hawkes netted for Tranmere just before the 70th minute to salvage a point for the visitors.

We’re not in great form right now, but we’ve been largely very good at GGL so far. We really should have beat Salford last time out as well. I know Micky Mellon sets Tranmere up to be solid and goes from there, much like Matt really so I’m expecting a tight one. Then again they usually are between us. I’d take a draw at this point after the last few games. We just need to draw a line under that, get the points moving on the board again and go from there.

If you have been keeping up with Micky Mellon’s Tranmere so far this campaign, what are your thoughts on The Whites?

Looked like a slow start, but seems to have picked up of late with a couple of narrow wins. Sounds like you’ve got a young side this year though so that might need time to bed in over the season as a whole. Would still expect to see you top half easily this year however.

Sutton United play their home game’s at Gander Green Lane.

Barrow meeting the opposition.

In recent times there have been worries for Tranmere supporters as The Whites had a very poor start to their League Two campaign, following on from a season where they failed to finish inside the Play-offs. 

However, the last two games have brought two wins on the road and this has put the supporters in much better spirits. Rovers are back at Prenton Park this weekend where they will come up against high-flying Barrow who find themselves positioned fourth in the L2 table.

Ahead of the game, I spoke to @Danielgamesyt6 about all things relating to The Bluebirds including the great appointment of Pete Wild. 

To start things off, Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been a Barrow supporter and when did you first come across the club?

I’m a local lad that goes to watch Barrow home and most away games. I also create YouTube content for the club, the channel is called ‘Barrowontour’. I’ve been a Barrow fan now for three seasons, I started to go to games when Paul Cox was in charge just before Ian Evatt was brought in. 

Last season, The Bluebirds just about escaped relegation as they finished 22nd. How would you assess that season and do you believe it was the right choice to sack former FGR gaffer Mark Cooper in late March? 

It wasn’t the best of seasons, we had to rely on players like John Rooney as he was a key part in keeping us up. I do believe it was the right choice to get rid of Mark Cooper. 

This summer, there was somewhat of a clear-out as thirteen players came in to the club either on loan or permanent with two being former Rovers men Sam Foley and George Ray. How have those particular two players settled in? How happy are you with the club’s business and do you believe that there are any other positions that need to be strengthened in January?

Sam Foley and George Ray have settled into the club very well. Foley is a regular starter alongside young Harrison Neal and although Foley is 35 he plays like he’s 23 which is what I love to see. 

The rest of our transfers have been great as well, Whitfield has scored three and made five assists in ten games and is the current top assister in the league at the moment which proves that he is a brilliant signing. 

Pete Wild, after a very successful season with Halifax, also entered the gates of Holker Street this summer. What are your thoughts on Wild so far? How have fans taken to him and what is his preferred playing style?

It was an amazing appointment as he’s a young manager that had a great spell with Oldham and Halifax having the best defensive record at home in the league. His preferred playing style at the moment is to press on loose balls and win the ball back as quickly as we can.

Paul Hornby is the Chairman of Barrow. What are your thoughts on him and the way that the club is run? 

I like him, he’s a local businessman from the area. I really like the way it’s going at the moment with appointing a sporting director, we never seemed to have that but now we do with the new manager and Adam Temple. The money has been put in around the club on the roof of Holker Street end, I feel that the club is going in the right direction.

Josh Gordon has netted seven in twelve games so far this campaign. Who would you say are your side’s key players and where do you believe the key battles will be played out on Saturday afternoon? Touching on the strengths that the team has, where do you believe Barrow will finish come next May? 

Josh Gordon has netted seven in twelve games so far, Ben Whitfield and Sam Foley are another two great players for us. I think we’ll finish in a play-off place or just inside the top ten.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs came head to head was February 5th as the game resulted in a 1-1 draw. 

I feel that Barrow will dominate the game. My score prediction will be a 3-1 Barrow win.

Following two Tranmere wins on the road, Micky Mellon’s men are back at Prenton Park this Saturday afternoon. The last time Barrow visited here was Boxing Day 2021 as Rovers won 2-0, Nicky Maynard and Kieron Morris were on the scoresheet that day.

Stockport County meeting the opposition.

Stockport County – meeting the opposition.

Following Tranmere’s away defeat against Leyton Orient, a game in which Micky Mellon’s and Kane Hemmings’ post-match interview summed the struggle up for The Whites this campaign, Rovers are back in action this Friday night as they face Stockport County underneath the lights of Prenton Park.

Tranmere and Stockport are two clubs who are expected to be towards the top of the table come May, when the league season ends. However, it has been a slow start for both Mellon’s men and Dave Challinor’s adding a further significance on Friday’s game.

Ahead of the upcoming ninety minutes, I spoke to @Countyscarf about all things Hatters and it’s safe to say that despite the relatively slow start there are many things for people of a Stockport persuasion to be happy about currently.

Last season, County won the National League to reclaim their EFL status. How do you reflect on the 2021-22 campaign as a whole and how great is it to be back in the 92?

After what we’ve all been through, it’s an absolutely wonderful feeling to be back in the Football League. Tranmere fans will also share an understanding of how heartbreaking it is to see your team drop out of the 92, but with finishes of 6th, 2nd and 2nd over your three years in the National League, your experience of non-league football didn’t seem to be too bad. For us, however, we had eleven years away, and six of those were spent in the sixth tier, which would have been unthinkable at one time. I don’t want to be disrespectful to non-league on the whole, as the footballing pyramid we have in this country is a fantastic setup, but it’s fair to say Stockport County are a Football League club in size and stature, so to be witnessing a Tuesday night defeat in a regional division at Vauxhall Motors only a decade or so after beating Manchester City in the second tier was extremely hard to stomach. 

I’m extremely proud of the way we’ve bounced back though. Yes, we’ve had some investment from our new owner Mark Stott to help us overcome the final hurdle in winning promotion from the National League, but even that’s been done in a nice way. It’s not money from hands with blood on them, such as one or two of the current lot in the Premier League, but money from a local businessman who was born in Stockport, who started off selling cars and advertising space in our local paper, before building a highly successful property company. He’s also donated substantial amounts of money to local charities and the NHS over these last couple of difficult years we’ve all had, as well as the fund to raise money for a statue of our most-loved manager Danny Bergara. The ground has had more than a lick of paint, and there’s lots of good work being done across the town. We’re in a good place.

After the eleven years we’ve had in non-league, winning the National League title was unforgettable. We could have won the league at Wrexham the week before in front of just over 1,000 away fans (which was all we had) but looking back now, as horrible as that day was, I’m actually glad we lost, so that 10,000 of us could pack into Edgeley Park seven days later and see history made.

This summer, ten players have been brought in with two being loanees as centre back Joe Lewis and forward Daniel Okwute came in for undisclosed fees. How happy are you with the club’s business and do you believe that there are any particular weak spots in the squad that need to be addressed soon?

I actually collect player ratings after every game for my website, from a different County fan each week to give a good balance, and James Brown (one of our summer signings from Blackburn on loan) has just picked up the Player of the Month award for July and August. Akil Wright, Vit Jaros and Callum Camps were all in the top six players last month, with Kyle Wootton and Fraser Horsfall (who scored the winner at home to Wimbledon last week) just behind, so you’d have to say the new signings look alright. On paper, the business we did over the summer looks OK, although it has taken us a few weeks to find our feet in League Two. A few of our fans were starting to get a bit restless, but all of our defeats so far have been by a single goal, and we’ve thrown away a few points ourselves with silly mistakes and red cards. The two main issues we had were on the left side of defence and up front, but both of these areas were addressed recently with Chris Hussey coming in (keeping a clean sheet on his debut) along with Daniel Okwute, who’s only 19 but has a great scoring record in Ireland.

On November 2nd last year, Dave Challinor was appointed gaffer as he left Hartlepool to take up his new role. How influential do you believe he was in last season’s promotion and how would you describe his playing style?

Well we were 11th after his first league game in charge, 11 points behind leaders Chesterfield, so to end up winning the league by six points, you’d have to say he’s not done too bad. We’d lost 2-1 at home to Barnet just before Challinor came in, on a miserable Tuesday night which turned out to be Simon Rusk’s last game in charge, and looked completely bereft of ideas and imagination. After that game, in terms of points, we were much closer to 24th than we were to 1st. When Challinor came in, there was a bit of hope we might make the play-offs, but nobody was thinking we'[d win the league. I try to avoid cliches if I can, but his arrival was the stereotypical breath of fresh air. The players were completely transformed instantly, showing a confidence and attacking style that we hadn’t seen under Rusk. Challinor’s first game was a superb 2-2 draw at Bolton in the FA Cup, in front of over 5,000 away fans, before we beat them 5-3 in the replay on an incredible night at Edgeley Park, which I firmly believe was the catalyst for what was to come. Boxing Day saw the start of a run of 17 wins and 1 draw from 18 league games, which still amazes me even now as I write this. We had a bit of a wobble in April, but got over the line to create history, and cement Challinor and that group of players as heroes.

Mark Stott has been the owner of County since January 2020 and information on his time at the club can be found on the website in ‘Mark Stott’s subsequent investment of £7.7m in Stockport County Football Club and its subsidiaries has been converted to equity’. What are your thoughts on Stott and the way the club is run?

These days, football club owners tend to be in it for the money (which there’s a fair bit of if you can make it to the top couple of divisions) or to massage their ego. I think it’s fair to say writing off £7.7m shows Stott isn’t in it for the money. And if you do a search on Google or YouTube or anything like that, you’ll find very few interviews or statements from him, unlike a lot of egotistical tossers you’ll find in a lot of boardrooms across the country. He’s a mild-mannered local lad who’s obviously made a few quid for himself, and having ticked off the Jaguar and the Cheshire mansion etc., he genuinely seems to want to make a difference to the club and the town, which he’s certainly done so far.

Antoni Sarcevic is The Hatters’ top goalscorer with three goals in eight games. Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the key battles be played out under the floodlights of Prenton Park this Friday? Touching on the strengths that your team has, where do you believe the club will finish in the table come next May?

We played with real purpose last season, with a high energy, pressing game which teams couldn’t handle at all. We’ve struggled to get going this season, but the first half against Wimbledon last week was our best football of the campaign, and there’s a hope this could be the start of a bit of a run, as we start doing the things which brought so much success last season. Paddy Madden’s suspended for Tranmere, but Ollie Crankshaw and Kyle Wootton looked good up top together, and we’ve got some midfielders who can really play if they’re in the mood.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs came head to head in league action was May 2010 when Rovers stayed in League One with a 3-0 win before fans stormed the Edgeley Park pitch in celebration. How disastrous was that game as County were relegated that day?

I’ve seen a few Tranmere fans not overly happy after your defeat last week, and I’m hoping we can make things awkward for you on Friday night. When the fixtures came out this was the first big away day that came up, and we’re all immensely looking forward to a Friday night game under the Prenton park lights. I’m sticking with my feeling of this being our first big Football League moment, with a late winner in front of the Cowshed. It’s got the feel of a classic County 2-1 away win. We’ll go berserk if that happens, but we won’t take it out on your crossbar.

If you have been keeping up with The Whites this summer/so far this campaign, what are your thoughts on them and whereabouts in the table do you believe they’ll finish? 

It’s hard to keep up with teams these days as everyone seems to change their entire squad each summer. You’re normally decent enough at this level and Micky Mellon seems alright. Play-offs maybe?

Stockport County play at Edgeley Park. The game here between County and Tranmere is scheduled for February 4th.